Struggling with incontinence can often feel like an isolating and lonely problem. Women don't talk about it or admit to it, rather it is swept under the rug or joked about in passing. 43% of women 50-64 struggle with leaking and 51% of women ages 65-80.
Two-thirds of those women have not asked for advice from a healthcare provider for what to do about it. Here are the three most common mistakes our specialists see women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s make who are struggling to manage incontinence.
#1 Going "Just in Case"
Do you have the urge to go to the bathroom every time you pick up your keys to leave the house? If that is you, stop going to the bathroom "just in case." Responding to a trigger, such as picking up your keys, by going straight to the bathroom reinforces that habit in your brain.
Your brain begin to associate you picking up your keys with needing to use the bathroom as if your bladder is signalling that it is full. This can create urgency and urge incontinence. Also break this habit with your kids and grandkids. Their little bladders are susceptible to the same conditioning and can develop urge problems just like adults.
#2 Limiting How Much You Drink
Have you stopped drinking liquid to avoid filling your bladder and avoid having leaks? This behavior backfires because drinking too little water causes the urine that is in your bladder to become extremely concentrated and irritating to your bladder. This signals urges as well as puts you at higher risk for bladder irritation and pain.
If your urine is dark or orange in color you have concentrated urine. If your pee looks more like orange juice and less like lemonade it's time to go to the kitchen and get a glass of water.
#3 Straining on the Toilet
Your pelvic floor muscles should be completely relaxed when you urinate to completely empty your bladder. Leaving urine in your bladder can lead to irritation, infection, and a whole host of problems.
A cue for adults and is always fun with little boys is that you should pee like a garden hose watering flowers (steady and constant) and not like a fireman's hose putting out a wildfire (pushing hard for speed and distance).
If you are a woman who wants to stay active, mobile and independent, watch below to hear how you can start reducing incontinence symptoms without medication or surgery.